Las Vegas cops didn’t find Stephen Paddock’s room until he’d already ended his mass shooting – even though a security guard was waiting outside injured.
Police are facing difficult questions about why it took at least 25 minutes to locate the killer, and then another 45 minutes before to storm his hotel suite.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo made the bombshell admission on Monday that security officer Jesus Campos was in fact Paddock’s first victim.
Previously, police had said he was the hero who disturbed the killer around 15 minutes after the shooting began and brought it to an end.
But now it’s emerged that the chaos at the Mandalay Bay began when Mr Campos went to investigate a stairwell door which was adjacent to Paddock’s hotel room.
Paddock, 64, had screwed it shut in an effort to obstruct responding police.
He was in the middle of installing cameras when he heard Mr Campos on the other side of the door using his radio.
Paddock sprayed hundreds of bullets through the stairwell door, hitting Mr Campos in the leg at 9.59pm.
Courageously, he raised the alarm and stayed in the stairwell.
Around five minutes later, Paddock began opening fire on the crowd at the Route 91 music festival from his hotel windows.
Using a variety of weapons, he killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others.
The shooting continued, as panicked Las Vegas cops on the ground had no idea where the shooting was coming from.
For reasons which remain unclear, the fact that Mr Campos had been shot and was still outside the killer’s room did not seem to filter through to those coordinating the police response.
It wasn’t until at least 10.25pm that the first responding officers located him on the 32nd floor, and they were not a SWAT team.
By this point Paddock had stopped firing and may well have already killed himself.
The first officers on the scene included Sergeant Joshua Bitsko and Officer Dave Newton of the K9-unit who had been training dogs when they heard the call.
The third was Detective Matthew Donaldson who was at police headquarters and had already driven nine miles to get to the scene.
He told CBS News how he arrived barefoot.
He’d rushed out in cowboy boots which rubbed his feet raw as he sprinted the final few blocks to the Mandalay, and he decided it was easier to take them off.
This ragtag mix of officers then formed an ‘ad hoc’ SWAT team and planned how they would storm the hotel room.
At 11.20pm, they used explosives to ‘breach’ the door and ran in to find Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Asked why it took more than an hour for this ‘ad hoc’ SWAT team to storm the room, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told KNPR: “Let me paint a picture for you… there’s no more active killing going on.
“SWAT was on route, but I wanna be clear to you.
“This was not an entry team composed entirely of all SWAT.
“Imagine you get to this door, it’s riddled with bullets, you look across and you see wires hanging off of a cart, it looks potentially like cameras, but you’re not sure if it’s wired to something on the other side of the door.
“And he’s no longer killing anybody. The game changes if he continues shooting, they go in, there’s no doubt about that.
“But as they go there, they also had conversation with one another that you can probably expect to get shot, and expect to get blown up.
“So they still make the decision to go in very quickly after an active shooter who has now killed dozens of people and injured hundreds and hundreds of other people.”
Undersheriff McMahill said police didn’t realise the correct timeline of events because they have been concentrating on investigating Paddock.
But the revelation that the it took at least 25 minutes for police to reach the scene of a major shooting at a hotel in Las Vegas will raise serious security questions.
By comparison, armed officers with the Metropolitan Police had shot dead the three London Bridge terrorist attackers within eight minutes of the first call from a member of the public.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for an answer as to Paddock’s true motive.
Sheriff Lombardo confirmed Paddock’s brother Eric and girlfriend Marilou Danley continue to be interviewed.
So far, police have yet to establish any concrete answers.
Sheriff Lombardo reiterated that they are certain Paddock had no links to a terror group or political organisation.
He was taking “medication” and police are concentrating on his mental health.
“This individual purposely hid his actions leading up to this event, and it is difficult for us to find the answers,” said Lombardo, who agreed he was frustrated with the speed of the investigation.
Police also confirmed reports which emerged last week that Paddock targeted a fuel tank on the edge of the festival.
Bullet holes were found in the tanks and Sheriff Lombardo said it’s believed Paddock may have been trying to set off an explosion as a distraction for his escape.